Grade the trade: Nuggets deal 4 picks to draft top target, Daron Holmes II

2024 NBA Draft - Round One
2024 NBA Draft - Round One / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

One thing is abundantly clear after night one of the 2024 NBA draft: the Nuggets really wanted DaRon Holmes II. The rumors and mock drafts have been connecting Holmes to Denver for almost a month now and there were some reports that the team had even promised the big man out of Dayton that they’d select him.

Well, select him they did, but it wasn’t easy. The Nuggets entered the night with the 28th pick overall, but as the draft went on the team clearly started to doubt that Holmes would still be available. So the Nuggets pounced on a deal and moved up to the 22nd overall pick to ensure they got their man.

Breaking down the Nuggets/Suns draft day trade

In exchange for pick 22, the Nuggets sent the Suns the 28th overall pick, the 56th overall pick, their 2026 second-round pick, and their 2031 second-round pick. Essentially, they gave the Suns three second-round picks to swap the 28th pick for the 22nd pick.

Why did the Nuggets make this deal?

The move worked out because Denver was desperate to get their guy and there was reason to believe he wouldn’t make it to 28. The Knicks held picks 24 and 25 and the Timberwolves held pick 27; both teams were known to be looking for a big man and they were seen as major threats to snag Holmes before the Nuggets got the chance.

So the team had to strike while the iron was hot, and at least for now, everything worked out. The Nuggets did lock themselves into a higher first-round salary as the 22nd pick will start at about $3.1 million per year as opposed to $2.5 million for the 28th pick. It’s good to see that ownership was willing to pay a little extra in luxury tax to invest in the roster and secure a target.

The Suns were highly motivated to add draft capital in any form, so they were thrilled to add three second-round picks that they could use or trade. Thursday’s pick will obviously be a very late one and the Nuggets are hoping the team will continue to contend and the two future second-round picks will also fall very late in the draft.

Who won the trade?

This appears to be a rare case of a win-win trade as both teams got exactly what they wanted and came away feeling good about the result. Giving away the two future seconds isn’t nothing, and with the Nuggets’ depleted pick resources that’s not insignificant. 

But if Holmes turns out to be half the player they think he will, then those picks they gave up will be of little to no consequence. The Nuggets were too pot-committed not to get their guy, so good on them for making sure that happened; well done all around.

Holmes trade. B+. 22nd overall pick. 28th overall pick, 56th overall pick, 2026 2nd, 2031 2nd. DaRon Holmes II Trade